I know a lot of people groaned when the Clash of the Titans remake was announced, but I was cautiously optimistic. Not because I thought it was going to be a great film or anything, but because I thought it had the potential to be far more entertaining than the 1981 original. I know that sounds blasphemous to some, but I'm sorry - The legendary monsters crafted by Ray Harryhausen just weren't enough to make up for the film's terrible pacing and laughable acting. Sure, the remake of Clash wasn't anything to write home about either, but the film was ultimately able to succeed as popcorn fun because it didn't pretend to be something it's not. No, it trimmed the fat from its bloated predecessor and set out to be nothing more than an hour and a half of pure eye candy. Personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I mean, if the ultimate goal is to provide us with a special effects driven spectacle, it's usually wise to leave plot and character development at the door. Don't get me wrong - I take no issue with a film that boasts strong plot, character development and mind blowing CGI, but if it isn't done just right, there's a strong possibility you could end up with a boring, convoluted mess like Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End, or the latest blunder out of Hollywood, John Carter. Still, there was something about 2010's Clash that felt a little bland, an assessment that Sam Worthington apparently agrees with, as he's the first one to admit that the story wasn't inspiring enough to keep him from phoning in his performance. So Worthington, with Jonathan Liebesman (Director), Dan Mazeau and David Leslie Johnson (Screenwriters), were determined to set out and make Wrath of the Titans a different beast altogether. After seeing the film for myself, I'll begin by saying this - Don't mistake their ambition for foolishness, because Wrath is most definitely the film Clash should have been all along.
When last we left Perseus (Sam Worthington), the demigod son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), he had just defeated the Kraken and saved humanity from their vengeful gods. He was offered immortality atop Mount Olympus, but Perseus decided to live his life as he always had - As a mortal. Wrath of the Titans begins 10 years after the fact, and in the course of the last decade, his beautiful wife Io passed away and left him with a son to raise. Despite his tragic loss however, things really couldn't be better for Perseus - He's been living the humble life of a fisherman again, and he's raised his son to be both hard working and intelligent. Somewhere inside, Perseus knew such peace couldn't last forever, and his concern is validated when Zeus zaps down from Olympus one evening to have a little chat. Zeus warns that a series of events have already been set in motion to bring calamity to both mortals and gods alike. Being that Perseus hasn't heard spit from his immortal father most his life and has a son of his own to consider, he refuses to help and sends Zeus on his merry way. However, Perseus begins to take the warning seriously when a Chimera lays waste to most of his village the next day, so he treks to the Mount of Idols to get all the necessary details from his father. Instead, he's met by a weakened Poseidon, who reveals that Hades (Ralph Fiennes), god of the underworld, and Ares (Edgar Ramirez), the god of war, have taken Zeus hostage and plan to drain him of all his power so they can free their father - The titan Kronos. Considering Kronos is a mountainous lava monster, Perseus accepts the fact he must intervene in the business of the gods once again, as there's a good chance there won't be a world left for him to raise his son in otherwise. In his travels, Perseus enlists the help of Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike), Hephaestus (Bill Nighy) and Agenor (Toby Kebbell), with the hope that they can help him collect the godly weapons that will put an end to Kronos once and for all.
Although Clash of the Titans was one hell of a ride, everything that happened was essentially meaningless. Whereas the 1981 original had too much emphasis on story, the 2010 remake didn't have enough. The characters on-screen were merely chess pieces that were moved about to get us from one action sequence to the next, and since there was no emotional connection between any of them, none of the film's events bared any weight. I was happy to see that the people who were designated to tackle the sequel recognized the flaws of its predecessor and wanted to make a meatier film, but I was skeptical if two new writers and a fresh director could have actually improved upon such minimal groundwork. Yet, that's exactly what they've done. Sure, the plot and scripted dialogue are still pretty basic, but I actually found myself growing quite fond of the characters this time around, villains included.
That's really the biggest overall improvement, really - The fact that none of the characters seem like they were thrown into the mix 'just because'. Take Agenor for example, who's seemingly scripted as the film's comic relief, sort of like Benny from The Mummy franchise. Unlike Benny however, Agenor wasn't an obnoxious toad that I hoped to see axed at the first sign of trouble. Toby Kebbell had great comedic timing, didn't overemphasize his one-liners and actually had brought some much needed charm to the franchise. Thanks to Kebbell, the more time I spent with the character Agenor, the more I respected him and hoped he would live to fight another day. Queen Andromeda is also a welcome addition as she acts as a love interest that actually makes sense for Perseus to pursue. Unlike the actress who portrayed Io in Clash, Rosamund Pike was able to bring some substance to Wrath's female lead. As a result, Andromeda wasn't just another pretty face to stare at - There was power and compassion that followed in her presence, making her connection with Perseus much easier to swallow. Speaking of Perseus, Sam Worthington delivers a much better performance this time around, actually portraying the human side that his character seems to care about so very much. Although, I'm not so sure his performance is the best in the film - Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson are given much more screen time as Hades and Zeus, and they pretty much steal the show whenever they're allowed to. Ares, Perseus' son and Hephaestus - These characters also play vital roles in the events that transpire in the film, and that's something that couldn't be said of the characters in Clash of the Titans. Again, the writers didn't exactly come close to breaking new ground with the script or anything, but I applaud them for fleshing out the characters better without compromising the pace of the film.
Another issue that plagued the 2010 remake was that the 'stage' so to speak, always seemed to feel limited or boxed in. Most of the sets were very small and half of the film seemed to take place in the middle of a desert. In Wrath however, the location not only changed constantly, but was always a real treat to take in. The treacherous underworld known as Tartarus is dark and foreboding, the lush woodlands of the Cyclopes are misty and dangerous, the Labyrinth is an ever shifting stonework that's been crafted by a god, and an otherwise plain battlefield is transformed into a smoky wasteland for Kronos to rise up from and blanket with pools of lava. All of these locations, and more, culminate to make Wrath of the Titans a far more enticing adventure from beginning to end, as we're never stuck in a single place for long. This allows the journey to feel far more open and epic in scale than it did in Clash. And speaking of Kronos - Wow. I thought the battle against the Kraken was impressive, but that sea dwelling sissy has nothing on the father of the gods. Although some might complain that it's blatantly a page that's been ripped from the PS3's God of War franchise, it was really only a matter of time before somebody brought this epic monster to the big screen in an even bigger way. The only way this screen version of Kronos could possibly be outdone, is if Kratos himself finds his way to a movie theater near you, but something tells me we're going to be waiting a long, long time for that to happen.
Does Wrath of the Titans have its share of problems? Of course it does. It's cinematic bubblegum after all. It was never designed to be an intellectual masterpiece, and furthermore, never attempts to fool us into thinking otherwise. Taking this film for what it is and nothing more, there are only two minor complaints that I have overall. For one, despite the fact that Andromeda is a far more believable love interest for Perseus, the whole 'love story' thing still feels as if it's been shoehorned in. Sam Worthington was tired of playing the same generic action star over and over again, but he should really consider talking to someone about ditching the 'hero always gets the girl' cliche. Last but not least, although Kronos is a far more impressive sight to behold than the Kraken, he really didn't do enough to satisfy my appetite for destruction. Still though, these complaints are minor, especially when one takes into account that Wrath of the Titans is superior to its predecessor in every perceivable way. Again, this isn't Shakespeare or anything, but whereas Clash of the Titans was a 'one and done' film as far as replay value was concerned, Wrath has already been screened on my home theater twice, and I'm hoping to have a few buddies over soon so I can watch it with them as well. It's just that fun. Even if you hated the 2010 remake, you should still give Wrath a shot... just don't go in with unrealistic expectations.
Wrath of the Titans smashes its way onto Blu-ray with a stellar 1080p, AVC encoded transfer (1.78:1). This couldn't have been an easy film to resolve digitally (on a Blu-ray disc, that is), as there's a lot of sequences in the film that utilize a fog or mist, as well blowing sand and smoke. The AVC codec not only handles these potentially difficult obstacles with ease, but it's able to keep the film's very fine grain structure intact without introducing any nasty artifacts. As a result of the top-notch encode we've been treated to, there's an unbelievable amount of clarity and depth to any given shot, to the point where you very well may find yourself stunned at just how detailed the special effects are throughout the film's entirety. Clash of the Titans was met with a smaller budget in comparison and had some tight time constraints to make it to theaters on time, but Wrath of the Titans had more to work with on every level and it certainly shows here. Colors are bold yet natural, black levels are consistently deep and inky, and there's nothing to complain about when it comes to contrast. Quite simply, Wrath of the Titans is demo worthy material, especially the finale sequence featuring the titan Kronos.
This is probably one of the most exacting 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track I've heard in quite a while. Much like the video presentation, the audio quality on this release is demo worthy. Want to hear how good the bass is? For starters, go to any scene where you hear Kronos speak - His voice has depth in its 'doom', as it's loud and is likely to rattle even the most amateur home theater setup... and that's not even with any action happening on the screen. As far as how precise any given sound effect is, there's plenty of action throughout the entirety of the film, so one doesn't really need to listen long before they understand just how well implemented directionality is - Every sound is accompanied with an astonishing amount of pinpoint precision and depth, which is going to make you feel like you're right in the middle of all the action. This lossless track doesn't just excel at everything loud and proud however. It also handles the most subtle hints of environment ambience, ensuring you always feel immersed in the film no matter what is, or isn't, going on. On top of it all, the dialogue always remains the priority and never gets drowned out. Home theater enthusiasts will not be disappointed.
-Maximum Movie Mode - This is a little different than what's standard for the coveted MMM. For starters, this isn't the supplement that features a director or cast member standing in between two screens, discussing and controlling the entirety of the film. Instead, you get to choose which 'path' you'd like to follow for the MMM experience - Path of the Gods, or the Path of Men. I half expected this to be a gimmick, allowing me to view the same material regardless of which path I chose, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the content actually fits the given theme. For the Path of the Gods, you learn more about the mythology behind the film. For Path of Men, you get more of the typical behind-the-scenes stuff you're used to. And no worries - If you want to experience both in a single sitting, you can switch back and forth between each path whenever it suits you.
-Focus Points - If you would rather skip watching the film when viewing the bonus content that's presented in the Maximum Movie Mode, you'll be able to find all those featurettes available separately here.
-Deleted Scenes - There are three deleted scenes here, each of which shows up as unfinished material. The film is paced pretty tight as it is, so I can see why the additional footage was left on the cutting room floor, as it probably would have chopped things up a bit.
Wrath of the Titans isn't one of the best films you'll ever see, not by a long shot... but then again, that was never the intention. The job of Wrath was merely to entertain you with a nice heavy dose of cinematic bubblegum, and it succeeds at that and then some. 2010's Clash of the Titans offered no real replay value for me, but Wrath of the Titans fixed many of the issues that made its predecessor stumble, making this an experience I'm sure to visit time and time again. The characters are more likeable, the most talented actors in the cast are given a real opportunity to shine, and the special effects are nothing short of jaw-dropping. In short, this film is bad-ass and it never lets up. As far as the Blu-ray disc itself is concerned, this is, hands down, a demo worthy disc all around. The only complaint I have is that the supplements left a lot to be desired. If you're not a fan of mindless popcorn action flicks, Wrath of the Titans might not appeal to you much more than its predecessor did, but for everyone else who doesn't mind turning off their brain to enjoy an hour and a half of eye candy? Highly Recommended.